New games are popping up like mushrooms and it is time for me to make some broth out of them.
I’ll start with the one most likely to draw attention: Conqueror of Dune. This game focuses on the same old rivalry between the Houses for the control of Arrakis, and you’ll have to seize three locations by relying on clever card play and negotiation. I personally think the artwork is stunning, and a way more exciting and innovative rendition of the novel’s setting than, say, any recent Hollywood super-production from a hyped director. Unfortunately, it’s also completely unofficial and unlicensed, so if you want to play this game, your only option is to rely on the free PnP. By the way, this is from the same designer as Ragemore, so the gameplay may be a bit similar.
Another game about the dubious ability of spreading humanity in outer space and the struggles of power that ensue: Galactic Conquest. Once again, availability is uncertain; it’s listed by BGG as “print on demand”, but I don’t know where you can actually make that demand. Anyway, you’ll have little ships in the form of tokens that will allow you to fight for resources and, ultimately, take over your opponent’s base. All of this in a small tin box.
For a brighter take on future times, you may go with Sunshine City from Coffeebean Games, a roll ‘n’ write where you manage your workers and your resources to build a radiant metropolis. The game will appear on Kickstarter eventually.
Abstract lovers may prefer Space Fruit Tree, a tile-laying game with intriguing figures of light and weird-looking colorful spheres. The goal is to grow the largest space tree, and I guess you need to match adjacent numbers in order to place tiles – something that is reminiscent of A Gentle Rain. I have no idea regarding the availability of this game though.
And because SF also means pew-pew, we have Nova Burn: Tabletop Shmup Action, whose description on BGG starts with “Tabletop. Shmup. Action.” Hmm, that’s not the most informative thing I’ve read… It’s a roll ‘n’ write space combat with RPG elements in the form of a PnP that you can freely download from the publisher’s website.
But future is not a guaranteed thing, and 14 Frantic Minutes will remind you of that. The special “save the planet from climate change” scientific project you were working on was actually a master plan to destroy mankind (which, as it turns out, would somehow fulfill the goals of the project), and you have only 14 minutes left to prevent the master plan from unfolding! You must combine polyomino tiles to complete puzzles – and eventually disarm the Doomsday device. In real-time, obviously. The game is listed as a KS-crowdfunded one.
Now that we have made our little Sci-Fi trip, I’ll guide you on a tour through history, itself an inexhaustible source of themes for board games. It may feel like each week repeats itself, but believe me, these are different games. So, we start in the Middle Ages in a board game inspired by the Thief video game series, although with much more cartoony aesthetics: Thiefdom. It’s actually a pick-up-and-deliver game where you can customize your thief with equipment pieces to gain new abilities. The game is set for a Gamefound campaign.
Next we arrive at the Early Modern era and the Spanish conquest of America with iiná, an 18 cards micro-game where you play as a Navajo tribe struggling to keep its culture thriving under the new oppressive rule. The game can be played in your hand and all you need to play is available on BGG).
In the same vein, but set a couple of centuries later, Pioneer Rails is a Flip ‘n’ Write game that offers you the opportunity to expand the railroad network across the American West. The game is co-designed by Jeffrey D. Allers and Matthew Dunstan (third week in a row that I feature a game of his), and should arrive on Kickstarter at some point.
So we move on to WWII, a cornerstone of any trip through History, in which The Unknown Soldiers brings us to a series of missions undergone by a small squad. The game is solo-only, card-based, and features tactical combat, and you will be offered the choice to play either side of the conflict. It will be published by Lock’ n’ Load publishing.
Now we arrive at Present Day and the epitome of it: soccer. Kick Off: Coach is a worker placement game in which you manage a football club. It really cost me to dive this far already, being both soccer-averse and worker placement-averse, so I trust you to do your due research if you want to know more about that one!
I’m happy about the next one because it’s from our favorite designer Uwe Rosenberg. Atiwa is a game set in southeastern Ghana. The game is inspired by the story of a mayor of a small settlement who decided to shelter a large number of fruit bats after having discovered that their excrement was helping against deforestation (thanks Uwe for coming up with well-researched and highly improbable board game themes). Following this newly found role model, you will manage a small community and lead it to prosperity. Expect worker placement, resource management, animal meeples, and pooping bats.
Another game the box cover art of which somehow reminds me of JW: Gnomadic Gardeners. The game pits you against an AI as you race to be the first to deliver 77 bliss (?) to the local food bank. It’s a card-driven game, but I didn’t quite untangle the main flow of it from the BGG description. Anyway, we’ll know more about it when it reaches Kickstarter!
For more games about gathering food in a cute slightly Fantasy setting, you can also consider the spin-off game of Creature Comforts, Maple Valley, in which youngsters are sent into the valley to gather food as all of the woodlands denizens are emerging out of hibernation, ready to start spring with a giant feast! The game is self-described as a “traveling trails, finding friends, and celebrating new beginnings game”, which seems rather pompous for something the only listed mechanisms of which are set collection and hand management.
I’ll end today’s show with another “cute animal Fantasy” title, Floe, a game where you undertake a heroic journey across the Iceberg Sea. The game focuses heavily on character development, and you’ll apparently be able to customize a bag of tiles; each turn you draw tiles that will determine the actions you can take. The designer is Henry Audubon (PARKS) and art is by Andrew Bosley (so any similarity to Everdell is likely not to be a mere coincidence). It will be kickstarted next February if all goes according to plan.